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Celebrate Christmas on the Sidewalk

by | Oct 28, 2014 | Not In USe

Part 2 of a 3 part series

By DSC Communications

There are a lot of choices for Christmas charity. After all, it is part of our culture and our faith to be generous and thoughtful at Christmas, but everyone gives for different reasons. How can you know which Christmas outreach project your church will support? If you chose a new Christmas outreach project for your church to support, would more members support it? Three church members in the Conference were interviewed about their Christmas outreach efforts. It is our hope that this second in a series of three case studies will provide some insight into the hearts and motives of volunteers at Christmas.

Photo courtesy of Sidewalk Sunday SchoolStudy #2 of 3: Bucky Bethancourt of Scottsdale UMC (Scottsdale, AZ) helps Sidewalk Sunday School kids receive bags of Christmas Cheer.

Every ministry has its struggles and successes.  Sidewalk Sunday School is filled with both. Despite the challenges, Bucky continues to share God’s message with his Scottsdale community. He sees first-hand benefits of sharing God’s word with families who might not otherwise hear it. The bags distributed at Christmas-time to the children in Sidewalk Sunday School are a great way to celebrate the joy of Christmas in this year-long ministry.

Photo courtesy of Sidewalk Sunday SchoolWhat brought you to this ministry? What brought me to this ministry was the idea of going out into the community and bringing children into our predominately adult congregation. My close friends, Jody and David Topping, were involved with starting this ministry at Los Arcos UMC. (In 2003) Jody and I had both recently lost our mothers, and I think we were both looking for a way to make a change in the world.

What keeps you doing this ministry? What keeps me in this ministry through the closing of Los Arcos UMC, Jody pursuing ministry, and David exploring his own career, is seeing the need to continue bringing the Word to families within the South Scottsdale community. I also receive tremendous support from the congregation, former Los Arcos UMC, and now at Scottsdale UMC.

What has been your most rewarding experience while serving in this ministry? Seeing the differences the ministry has made in the everyday lives of the South Scottsdale families I’ve befriended has been one of my most rewarding experiences while serving in this ministry. A highlight of my ministry happened this year when a young woman who began attending Sidewalk in 2003 earned a scholarship to Grand Canyon University and was a nominee for the Boys and Girls Club Student of the Year.

What has been the biggest struggle in volunteering for this ministry? My biggest struggle in this ministry is experiencing the hardships with the families we minister to. I watched one family fragmented by the death of the mother. It’s heart-wrenching not being able to prevent or fix the situation. But I can pray for them.

Do you have any wisdom or advice for those wanting to take part in this ministry? Be prepared to have your hearts filled with joy and a sense of fulfillment, and be prepared for the heartbreak this ministry can bring when you simply can’t solve the situation your Sidewalk family is in.

What are some of the ways you reflect on and/or celebrate this ministry after an outreach opportunity or event? On different occasions the other volunteers and I will share our experiences with the congregation, each other, and our loved ones. It really helps to reinforce that God is at work here.

In what ways do you share this ministry with others? I share this ministry with others by explaining what we do, giving out business cards, and always trying to interest new people who can assist in our ministry through donations, volunteering, or offering expertise.

Are there any new skills or other benefits you have witnessed from your service? During my service I have learned how to deal with delicate family situations, how to interest others in this important ministry, and how I want to further my faith journey.

To find out more about the Sidewalk Sunday School Christmas Project visit http://www.desertsouthwestconference.org/sidewalk-sunday-school.

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Author: DSC

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